Monday, October 27, 2014

MONDAY MUSINGS: GOLDEN FALL A TIME OF WORK AND FUN



It is fall, and while I decry the passing of summer and the diminishing light there is a beauty to fall I've always loved. The bright blue skies, the crisp snap of cool, the bright colors to the trees, the rich scents of the woods, and the sound of the huge flocks of geese flying south. The smell of wood smoke in the air. I love the golden sunshine bathing everything in warmth and beauty. Liquid gold.


Fall is also a busy time because we're preparing the house and fields for winter cold. Gathering wood, filling the propane tank, weatherizing windows and doors as well as the Dane houses. Stocking up on hay and feed. I planted more tulips for spring color. Be nice to look out my window in my office and see the bright colors while working next spring. Dan was out mowing the lawn for what he thinks should be the last time of the season--we'll see. I know there will be at least one more time to mulch the leaves that have fallen in yard. 

Fall has been a little strange this year. For one, it's the last week of October and we still have green leaves on many of the oaks. I noticed yesterday that they're starting to pick up small sections of their red coloring of fall. Still warm enough to go barefoot and be in shirt sleeves although the nights and early mornings are jacket weather. We've had the AC kick on several times in the afternoon. Last year we had a brilliant display of color that peaked by October 15th and that last week of October the front yard was full of leaves. Not this year. We've also spent some time doing fun things which is just as necessary as doing the fall chores. 

CANDLES
HANDMADE SOAP
This past weekend we went to a fall festival. It was good to get out among people and enjoy the beautiful weather we've been having. A friend of mine holds this fall festival. She's a natural health practioner, grows organic gardens and cultivates many herbs she uses in her practice. Through her, I have met many other small organic farmers and ranchers in our area as well 
JEWELRY
as a ton of crafters. Festival is on her huge place. Lots of vendors from all over Missouri with their wares, live music, good food, lots of laughter and good times. 

BREADS ETC
YUMMY PRODUCE
There were hayrides, mushroom harvest walks (by an
expert in the field), herb walks, soap and candle making demos, canning and cheese making.

In the evening there are bonfires, s'mores, coffee, beer and wine, conversation and of course music. Quite a few good musicians with everything from rock to country.


We had a good time.

  

Monday, October 20, 2014

MONDAY MUSINGS—YEAH-YOW-HISS?



I was up early this morning, before dawn, drinking a cup of coffee outside on the patio. About an hour before sunup and though it was a bit cool it’s a great time to soak in the scents and listen to nature. It's a time to get myself together to face the day. 

I have to admit, I wasn't quite expecting the sounds I heard this morning. I hear and see coyotes quite frequently as they finish up hunting and congregate around the pond a couple hundred yards from the house. I think they gossip about the night they had and renew pack bonds and head off to their dens. We have an unspoken agreement. So long as they stay around the pond I’m cool.
Most common in Missouri
Any closer to the house or my yard I will shoot off the air rifle, which sounds badder than it, is. 
I've seen several foxes at just dawn and a little beyond, heard their yips as they make their way to dens. They watch me and I watch them. 

Photo: Missouri conservation
Dan saw a gray fox down (they're not as common as the red fox) at the other pond below the house early Saturday morning. We have several big old owls that sit over there and hunt rabbits. It's quite a hunting ground around that small pond.

This morning was unique. A loud vocalization. Sort of like hearing the word yeah—only drawn out by a non human. It started in low range and increased in sound with a strong emphasis on the ‘ah’. Didn't recognize what the heck it was when I first heard it. Out of place. My first reaction was, ‘what the hell was that?’ It was really close. The second vocalization had a yeah-yow-hiss to it. Oookay. That’s definitely feline but not a domestic one. I've heard domestic cats make a similar sound but not with quite
A friend who does wildlife rescue took this.
the same voice range or depth. Wow. Now mind you, a couple of coyotes were still out over at the pond and so was the cat. Holy cow it’s a Bobcat. By now the sky has lightened and sunrise is still about 5-10 minutes away, but I can see the animals and they are aware of me. I also have binoculars with me so I can see things of interest up close and personal.

Apparently the bobcat had scored a rabbit and two of the coyotes were interested in its bounty. I watched, amazed, as the bobcat dropped the rabbit at its feet and charged the pair of coyotes and then circled back and sat. One coyote came close again and the cat growled and charged again. Damn thing was almost the size of the coyotes. My cats fluffed and watched intently but made no moves to investigate. Smart cats. Dogs didn't make any noise, probably still asleep. Or accustomed to them being around. Coyotes decided the rabbit wasn't worth the effort of going through the bobcat’s defense to get and took off. I knew where the coyotes were by watching the bobcat. I think they were hoping the cat would leave the rabbit and they could score a nice snack. It didn't. It hunched down and ate a bit, ears moving while it’s watching the brush where the coyotes went. About two minutes later it picked up the rabbit and headed up the hill. I lost sight of it in the brush in less than a minute. Amazing. A real life documentary taking place right before my eyes.

I knew Missouri had a healthy population of bobcats but hadn't really seen any (not really surprising since they're rather elusive).  I had seen some unusual scat and markers when wandering around the property and wondered. Didn't look caninecoyote or fox.  I wasn't sure exactly which animal was doing this. Reminded me of markers by mountain lions I had seen out west but I knew it wasn't a lion. We do have them traveling through the Ozarks now and then but no confirmation of them actually living here and raising families and hence marking territory. 

A friend of mine, who does wildlife rescue here in Missouri, said it's probably bobcat and sent pictures of bobcat tower markers and scat. So, now I know my property is in the territory of a bobcat. I had seen the evidence but hadn't seen them. Now, I have. 

Who’da thought? So long as the bobcat, like the coyotes, keeps its distance from the house I’m cool with it. In my yard comes with a death penalty. But it was seriously cool to hear and see this today.  

Monday, October 13, 2014

MONDAY MUSINGS: WHEN THE CASTLE SHUTS DOWN



This has been an odd year for me. I've had a tragedies and triumphs, but then so have many. I've noticed a bit of apathy in my court. Don’t know if it’s a result of losing my oldest brother or wrecking my shoulder or numerous battles I've had to wage over the past few years, but I seem to have lost my give a damn somewhere. I've kind of shut down the castle, pulled up the drawbridge, closed the main gate and pulled down the portcullis. I have retreated to the Keep. And though you may not see them there are armed guards in place to protect my privacy and person.

I’m somewhat reclusive to begin with but even more so now. That’s not to say that the Great Hall hasn't had feasting now and then because it has. My creativity seems to be focused on refurbishing the inner castle. You know, defenses, new tapestries and wall sconces, improving the kitchens, redoing of the sleeping chambers. Inside the curtain walls of the castle the gardens thrive the orchards, well, not so much but there are replacement trees, which will bear fruit in a couple of years. Some of the livestock have been reduced and areas planned for other types for the larder. 

The bringing in of coin to the castle, at least on my part, is done from inside the castle on a daily basis. This is both good and bad because there is no need to leave the Keep or inner Castle walls to accomplish that. Good because when the winter winds blow and the snow piles up coin will still come in. There has been a lot of extra training to concentrate on to accomplish that and it takes up a lot of
time but it’s all good. 

In my office I have numerous scrolls of legends and tall tales but I've had no desire to open them or contribute anything to them at the present, which is odd. At least for me. I will admit to some stirrings of interest in that direction but not quite ready to actively take them up. That may change as those cold winds blow and the snow falls and the characters left behind become more insistent. Or the new ones demand life. For now I’m comfortable pursuing the writings of others.

Seasons come and go. Life moves forward. No doubt things will change and I won’t feel the need to hunker down behind the walls. I do know it’s not good to keep the castle closed up indefinitely either for the Laird or the castle folk. And it’s not that I’m unhappy or overly blue or sad. I’m content, at least for now. I am aware of a subscript, out of sight, running inside my brain. We'll see what conclusions it produces.  

In the spring perhaps I'll let down the drawbridge and lift the portcullis.

Who knows?






Monday, September 29, 2014

MONDAY MUSINGS— HEARING VOICES



My husband cracks me up.

He loves westerns. He and the Western channel are good buds. I believe he’s watched about every western series made—all 145 or so. Me? I’m not a big fan of westerns—well aside from Bonanza, Big Valley, and The Virginian (when I was very young, about 9 or 10-ish I had a wicked crush on Little Joe). These were my dad’s favorites. 

I remember the theme songs to two others Dad watched regularly, The Rebel (Johnny Yuma) and Rawhide. I say the theme songs because we were usually in bed when they came on, but I can sing the both songs—Have Gun Will Travel too. The only Western I really liked was Wild, Wild West when I was a bit older. Anything else? Forget it.

My husband has a fabulous memory for dialog—especially for anything Lonesome Dove. That’s top on the list of westerns he loves.  I actually had to get downright threatening when he thought going to live in Montana (he calls it MUN-tana) would be a good thing. 

Really?
Have you seen the snow they get up there?
Well, I have. No way, no how. Have a good time. Be sure to write, lol! 

One of his very good friends (and fellow Lonesome Dove aficionados) actually did move there which tickled Dan to no end to think of Terrence “Woodrow” in MUN-tana. Terry has a magnetized sign that goes on his truck that says, “Hat Creek Cattle Company”. You’ll never guess who got that for him.

Any number of situations can have Dan quoting ole Gus or Woodrow and he doesn't particularly care where he is when he does. My son and I know, from long observation, when he’s setting up for a quote ‘fest, particularly in restaurants and we tend to hide behind our menus. Slow service or a “surly Bartender” will get you, “One of the things we didn’t put up with back then is dawdling service and as you can see, we still don’t…put up with it.”  At a table with friends, he’s been known to raise his Gold Margarita on rocks, with salt, “Here’s to the sunny slopes of long ago.” I fully expect him to tell me on his deathbed, “My God, Woodrow. It has been quite a party, ain’t it?”

My husband also loves corny jokes and sayings. He has pages of stuff he’s made up. Other things are from pop culture like movies, TV shows, or comedy skits. He loves “voices” and is very good with mimicking what he hears—everything from Dirty Harry to one of his favorites, South Park’s Lock Ness Monster skit. Yep, he’s been known to launch into that one at any time but especially when he hears the price of something being $2 or $3.50, “and I said tree-fitty?” He can do the whole thing, gestures, inflections, voices and all. 

Bless his heart, Dan loves the voices and does them very well. Too well.


Which is why we have a sign hanging beside the back door that reads, Warning, Alleged Comedian in residence. Enter at your own risk.

Monday, September 22, 2014

MONDAY MUSINGS SAVORING THE MOMENTS



Life gets complicated. So many decisions and issues to deal with. I don't know about you but there are times I'm like a fluff of cotton caught in the whirlwind blown here and there. My head is so full of stuff that everything blurs around me. It's a rough ride with no time to really look around. 

There are times I must fight my way out and just savor the beauty of a moment in time. Stop and anchor myself to the now. Look around and see the beauty that surrounds me. Let go of all the must do issues and just be. You'd think that would be easy but it's not always. Sometimes I have to give myself permission to step off the platform of the whirlwind and just let it move on for awhile.

An afternoon on the trail


I did that on Sunday afternoon. Took the time to breath in fresh scent of the grass, visit with my animals, listen to the wind and the call of the birds. Watch the shadows of the sun crawl across the pastures. Just be in the moment. I could feel the tightness unwind from inside and awareness of my surroundings unfurl and soothe me. I needed that.

Doctari and  Sassy



Pasture in the afternoon sun


A pair of armadillos that live down by the pond


Me darlin' Sassy being proud and pretty

These moments are ones to savor. They make you glad you're alive.

How do you find the moments to unwind? What do you do to make it happen?

Monday, September 15, 2014

MONDAY MUSINGS AND HOLES IN THE GROUND.



Who pays much attention to a small hole in the ground? Especially when you have stupid colonies of moles burrowing under your front yard or visiting armadillos that love to dig small holes foraging for food after dark and get all your dogs going because they can see them. 

Obviously, we don’t pay a great deal of attention to them.


My husband decided the grass needed mowing after a week of rain. Yeah, the grass was definitely growing tall even though it had been cut two weeks before. We usually mow the grass about every week when we get a lot of rain and every other week when it’s drier. We don’t use a push mower because our yard takes up almost an acre. We have a riding mower. Love my John Deere.

Since I had to work most of this weekend Dan decided to do the mowing Sunday afternoon and told me to go take a nap. Perfect suggestion to me, thanks honey. When I’m tired I tend to nap about an hour and a half and I sleep pretty deep and I was very tired. I fell asleep to the sounds of the mower and the smell of cut grass.

An hour later I’m suddenly awakened by screams. To be precise my husband’s screams of pain. That’s a heart-thumping guarantee to awaken anyone. One moment you’re asleep and the next you’re hyper alert and ready for battle. Having the Danes go off with serious barking didn't help. By the time I get out of the bed room Dan had made it to the north side of the house, still screaming, and around to back. I look out the window and the mower is abandoned but upright. My mind has a couple of seconds to figure out the probable cause of the ruckus. Bees. Well, to be specific, yellow jackets.

Sure enough, he has a small cloud of them flying behind him. I had no idea if he hit a ground nest or there was a nest in branches of the lilac bushes that go across the front of the yard. Dan made it to the back door and dashed in. Yellow Jackets pinged against the glass door. 

I had already gotten down the antihistamines and starting a bowl of baking powder paste. He’s not allergic to bee stings but I would rather err on the side of caution and I didn't know how many stings he actually had. Fortunately Dan had on heavy denim knee length shorts and a thick work shirt with a double thick yoke across the back of his shoulders and a good-sized collar. The Yellow Jackets couldn't really penetrate the material well enough to do any real damage and the collar mostly protected the back of his neck and shoulders. He always wears a hat (and glasses) so his face and eyes were safe. There were a few of the nasty things tangled in the thick hair near the back of his neck. We had to get those out. He had several stings on that part of his scalp. Tore the heck out of his lower arm and got him pretty good on one calf and knee. Maybe four or five bites. Most had been on his shoulders where, thankfully, he was protected.

It was a ground nest. Now keep in mind we mow frequently. No attacks two weeks ago when he mowed the same area and in the same way. So either it’s a new nest or more likely, the nest had been there but not on the area we mow but had grown toward the yard since the last time we mowed and with a new entry way there.

Dan’s cussing a blue moon and threatening fire (he’s a secret pyromaniac) and destruction once the sentries went to ground. I’m having a vision of a major fire in the front yard with Dan chanting, burn baby burn

Um, no, sweetheart, no gas and no fire. 

We need to see where the entries are and we can use hot mint soapy water—like we have on a few nests in the past. It works fine and mint oil is very effective in killing bugs or wasps. Then he remembered he had two cans of wasp/bee stream shooters. So he did that followed up with water. Hopefully it worked. I don’t like pesticides because of the animals and if they were to walk in it… and I’m highly allergic to them.

A few years back we had a huge ground nest in the far back corner of the yard. It had several entryways. We figured it was at least four foot wide underground. All I know is it took a long time for the fire to burn out. It’s not good for the ground but Dan had waited until I went somewhere, to grocery store I think, to do the deed. I’d have pitched a fit had I been there.

So the moral of this story is to pay attention to holes in the ground and scope them out to see if there is wasp activity. If there is proceed with caution especially when mowing in the spring or fall. Yellow Jackets are very aggressive in the fall as food becomes less plentiful.


Dan was fortunate because it could have been oh, so much more serious. If he hadn't quickly recognized what was happening and high tailed it out of the area he could have had hundreds of stings instead of fifteen or twenty of them and be spending the night in the hospital instead of snoozing in his recliner.

Monday, September 8, 2014

CAROL KILGORE INTRODUCING KAT MARENGO




Hi! I’m Kat Marengo, and I live in the soon-to-be-released novel SECRETS OF HONOR. I’m here to dish on Carol Kilgore, the author who created me.

Well, Carol thinks she created me, but we both know better. I found her mind floating up in the clouds one day and hopped inside. Omigosh, what a mess!

She kept tossing things in and other things out. I got hit with a couple of pillows and had to dodge a toy truck before I realized she was searching for Christmas gifts. See, I arrived between books.

Once I caught on to how she thought, the rest was easy. I started tossing in things I liked, and I knew the minute she realized I was there. Then I messed with her head for a while before I introduced myself.

Of course once I did, she tried to take over. Carol initially wanted me to be an antihero with a little ink and some piercings. I laughed and told her she needed to chill. It might’ve been fun, but my mama would've pitched one big hissy fit if she’d seen me that way. 

Besides, while I’m perfectly capable of taking care of myself in most situations, I’m a little bit girly-girl, too. So Carol listened to reason. She also heard me when I said I'd really a man in my life. The minute I laid eyes on Dave Krizak, I didn't know who to hug first–him or Carol. How she knew I wanted someone and with muscles and blue eyes, I don't know. She read my mind as easily as I read hers.

Besides Dave Krizak, who’s in a whole class all by himself, SECRETS OF HONOR was so much fun. I got to show off some of my skills, and one of my new dresses. We had a huge mission to accomplish, and our team came right together. We like to take all the credit, but to be fair, Carol may have had a hand in making sure our work paid off.

I told her if she ever wanted to write a sequel, I’m all in. She said she’d remember that and let me know if that time ever came up. One thing about Carol – she plays her cards close to her chest. She’s a Scorpio, you know. They’re like that.

Oops, would you look at the time. I gotta run. Meeting Dave, Peter, and Remy at Parrot Cay – it’s the best bar for our kind here in San Juan.

What are we doing in San Juan?

I may talk a lot, but I don’t share secrets, especially SECRETS OF HONOR.

                                                                                                                                                  

By the end of a long evening working as a special set of eyes for the presidential security detail, all Kat Marengo wants is to kick off her shoes and stash two not-really-stolen rings in a secure spot. Plus, maybe sleep with Dave Krizak. No, make that definitely sleep with Dave Krizak. The next morning, she wishes her new top priorities were so simple.

As an operative for a covert agency buried in the depths of the Department of Homeland Security, Kat is asked to participate in a matter of life or death—locate a kidnapped girl believed to be held in Corpus Christi, Texas. Since the person doing the asking is the wife of the president and the girl is the daughter of her dearest friend, it’s hard to say no.

Kat and Dave quickly learn the real stakes are higher than they or the first lady believed and will require more than any of them bargained for. 

The kicker? They have twenty-four hours to find the girl—or the matter of life or death will become more than a possibility.





Although Carol has deep Texas roots, she’s lived up and down the eastern seaboard and in other locations across the U.S. as a Coast Guard wife. She sees mystery and subterfuge everywhere. And she’s a sucker for a good love story—especially those with humor and mystery. Crime Fiction with a Kiss gives her the latitude to mix and match throughout the broad mystery and romance genres. Having flexibility makes her heart happy.